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CIO Spotlight Review – Mastering the Art of Digtial Disruption

On Thursday 22nd February 2018, ROQ delivered another successful CIO Spotlight, a series of events established to address the business, technology and leadership issues facing IT thought leaders.

The event, held at the fantastic Merchant Taylors’ Hall, Threadneedle Street, London focused on ‘Mastering the Art of Digital Disruption’ and was attended by CIOs, senior digital leaders and business executives from a broad range of organisations from across the capital and beyond.

The three speakers for the event were selected to provide an insight to the audience on the theme and to cover the impact on; people, process and technology. In session one Chris Lord, CTO at Babcock International and previously Group CIO at Collinson Group addressed, ‘Leadership in the Digital Age’.

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Chris discussed how difficult digital transformation is and how it has to be adopted by the whole organisation. Both behaviours and processes must be considered; with organisations having to adapt to become more fluid, open to change and the benefits must be widely communicated to create organisational wide courage.

He went on to explain how story telling is key and organisations can change culture along the story of transformation. Company values can help or hinder this journey, but understanding limitations can help define expectations. Chris also explained that he felt incremental changes would lower risk as failing fast is important to save both time and money.

Craig Ambler, IT Director at Center Parcs hosted session two which discussed ‘Organisational Readiness for the Digital Age – Putting Theory into Practice’. Craig discussed his experience at Center Parcs - explaining that when he joined it was very early in its digital journey. He began by embedding himself in the customer journey, experiencing the villages first-hand with a view to understand how the organisation could maximise spend.

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The business was very traditional – still largely paper-based and Craig began to introduce new ideas such as agile ways of working to ensure the business could begin to change quicker. This helped enhance their existing systems as well as creating new products and services to essentially improve the business whist remaining true to its values.

Speed was also a key theme to Craig’s talk and ensuring teams could work together more efficiently, delivering systems quicker to market with a single customer view. He also advocated the importance of test, but also automating as much as possible.

Craig also introduced the idea of being able to fail fast and how important it is for organisations to be open to the idea of failing. He suggested a ‘test quick, learn fast’ approach - as an important aspect of delivering transformation, which he suggested is impossible to achieve without this outlook.

The final session of the day was from Alan McLaren, Head of IT Project Delivery at Gatwick Airport (recently announced as the 4th most digitally innovative airport in the world) and he discussed ‘Placing Digital Disruption and Innovation Centre-Stage’. He began by stressing the importance of defining digital for the business and using vendors who you can trust and who have experience in helping deliver similar projects.

The major challenge at an airport is huge passenger footfall, arriving in waves and they are keen to get through as quickly and efficiently as possible. The journey through the airport has a massive reliance on IT and if something goes wrong, there can be a huge impact on customers. Gatwick were the first airport to offer ‘self-serve bag drop’ at scale and you are now able to drop your bags at the airport up to 18 hours in advance.

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They have real-time people monitoring to identify problems quickly and are geared up to solve the issues and to arrange staff to attend. They also recently created an award-winning app which helps to create customer loyalty.

Alan also  highlighted some of the really exciting and innovative ideas they are currently exploring including; mind-reading technology for security to increase speed, E-nose which can pick up smells at entrances and is more accurate than sniffer dogs, drones which can inspect the runway, autonomous vehicles which will help increase time travelling around the runway and campus chat bots amongst many other things. It was clear to see why Gatwick are winning awards for their innovation and showed that digital disruption isn’t just for start-ups.

This culminated in a lengthy debate, with the opportunity for delegates to ask the speakers questions, share their own stories as well as asking wider questions to the room. There was a lot of discussion around what others had done to change the culture within their organisation and some great ideas shared. A lot of questions featured around how to put forward a business case for these innovative ideas and who’s responsibility it is to really drive innovation. There was also discussion around the benefits of human interaction vs automation and how much we can truly automate.

Andrew Ayres, Director - ROQ, said:

“It’s our view that the digital age provides boundless opportunities for organisations and individuals alike. This event provided a great platform for the practical and the theoretical to come together – arming delegates with key insights they can apply in their own unique contexts. What came across strongly throughout was that the new organisational capabilities we need to build rest heavily, sometimes entirely, on software that works."

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